DETROIT -- When Junichi Tazawa struck out Miguel Cabrera with runners at the corners and one out in a 1-0 game on Tuesday, it marked his biggest moment in a Red Sox uniform.
And for the Red Sox, it was a reward for their scouting department for plucking him out of the Japanese Industrial League five years ago, and also a credit to the development staff. Of course, Tazawa also deserves plenty of credit for the way he bounced back from Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago.
Manager John Farrell was Boston's pitching coach when Tazawa made his Major League debut in 2009.
"Well, the biggest thing that stands out in me being away and coming back is the way the rehab from Tommy John surgery has almost increased his arm strength," Farrell said. "And certainly in the role, shorter stints, rather than the starting role that first saw him here. I mean, he started more games than he relieved before the injury.
"He's always been a good strike thrower. He's always had three pitches for strikes. He's always been able to control the running game and seemingly pitches composed. There was no bigger moment than probably his career than yesterday. But more than anything, it's the increase in velocity in combination with the shorter stints seems to fit his physical abilities."
In his six appearances in this postseason, Tazawa hasn't allowed a run. It's been impressive, considering he was inconsistent down the stretch. One adjustment Farrell has made is shortening the length of Tazawa's outings.
"We had to rebuild a little bit of confidence at times and the more he's come in and shut off an inning, in shorter stints, that has gradually built to the point where, right now, I think he feels pretty good about himself," Farrell said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.